My knowledge of the Manichaeans derived from mentions in Augustine’s Confessions. Here is a bit more:
As to what Mani taught, it was the well-worn Gnostic account of an evil creator and an evil world, with some especially scandalous details. It was not Adam but an evil archon who had sex with Eve and fathered Cain. Then Cain had sex with his mother and fathered Abel. Later Eve managed to arouse the ascetic Adam to father Seth, thus beginning a race of beings who are noble in spirit but “entrapped in innately evil material bodies.”
Mani created two levels of membership: the Auditors and the Elect. The former ‘heard’ the word but did not live a life that could qualify for admission to the Kingdom of Light upon their death. Rather, they could hope only to be reborn as vegetables and then to be eaten by the Elect and “belched” to freedom from the evil archons and sent on their way to the Kingdom of Light. As for the Elect, they were bound by extraordinary restrictions: no sex, no alcohol, no meat, no baths, and virtually no physical activity of any kind. They could meet these requirements only if Auditors waited on them hand and foot. The Manichaeians enjoyed some success. They missionized far eastward (into China), making converts even among the nobility, as well as far westward—the young St. Augustine was a Manichaean for a few years (but only as an Auditor and without giving up his mistress).
Stark, Rodney. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (p. 175-177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. I wonder what anyone found attractive about such a scheme….